Thursday, September 5, 2013

The bathroom barn door

Remember when we bought the awesome doors for the bathroom and pantry? Yeah, it's been so long I barely remembered it too. But we did! And we finally got one of them hung up. Given our general sense of priority you may think we hung the pantry door first, but no, we opted to give a measure of privacy to the bathroom. We were having a party and thought the guests might appreciate it.

Step one: buy doors. Wait months to install. This allows proper aging. Honest.
Step two: buy barn door hardware. Curse when a search for barn door hardware online takes you to sites with very expensive examples. Hundreds of dollars just for one bracket. Go instead to Tractor Supply and buy real hardware for real barn doors. It'll be galvanized, but that's why they make spray paint.
Step three: paint the hardware and then lift extremely heavy door into position so you can figure out where you want to attach everything.

In situ so to speak
The track and hangers from Tractor Supply were much less expensive than fancy not-really-for-a-barn stuff. I used black satin spray paint to make them less industrial.
Galvanized, pre-paint.
Cut track to fit and file for smoothness
Once you decide where on the door you want the brackets you have the scary task of drilling through your awesome door. Take it outside to do so. It's pretty out. Enjoy the sun.
We moved this darn door many times. It's heavy.
Bring door back inside to see if the height is correct. Yes, you could measure it. But would that really give you the full effect? Ahem. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Figuring out where to mount the track
Once we figured out where we wanted the track, we had to find the door header. We planned for a barn door here so put a full header all the way to the far wall, not just over the door opening. Unfortunately, despite having photos and knowing that we did this, we couldn't find the darn wood. The stud finder was not finding anything. We drilled a few test holes and hit air. WTF???

Finally decided to cut out the drywall and see what was going on. Figured we'd sister in a nailer if that's what was needed.

Desperate measures
Chris was a good sport about all this. It was very frustrating that we couldn't figure out what was going on.

See? He's still smiling.
And this next shot says it all. If you look really closely you can see the three test holes we drilled in the upper left corner. We were 1 inch too high. 1 inch! Argh. The stud finder wouldn't work because the whole darn thing is wood. Nothing to sound against. Double Argh.

So we took that perfectly cut out piece of sheetrock and put it right back in place. Fortunately I've had lots of practice mudding and sanding drywall lately. Got that puppy repaired and repainted within 24 hours.

And now, back to the hardware installation process.

The wheel assembly is designed so that you can adjust the height by tightening/loosening the center bolt. This lets you correct level if the track should shift for some reason (like it's actually hanging on a barn and the barn sags). What it did for us was allow us to have a wee bit of wiggle room if the door didn't hang quite right against the jam.

Adjustable wheel assembly
In order to install it properly you have to drill down into the door frame so the bolt can travel up and down. It's a tight fit and we pinched a few fingers getting it all set up.

Drilled and ready to adjust
One more session of measuring and fitting and we had to trim a bit off the bottom of the door. Since we had to install the track a bit lower than originally planned, a couple inches needed to come off. Chris set up a jig, moved the sassafrassing door again, and used a circular saw to do the trimming.

Clamped level for a saw guide
Almost done
Then he used his hand plane to give it a nice finished edge. Applied some stain and varnish to seal the wood and we were ready to hang it up.

Giving it a nice finish
 And here it is in all its glory.

Checking level
Gotta admit I really love it. It's solid, it's pretty, it's got some history, and it says "Private". How perfect is that?!?
Ta dah!
And the view from the inside is just as good. Well, it will be once we have trim. That's for another day though.



  1. Love that it says "private". So fitting. The tutorial will really help others learn how to hang a barn door like this.

    1. Thanks Kim. Your barn doors helped inspire this idea - I love the sliders you have going into the master closet/bath.